In the early 20th century, raccoons were poised to become the go-to model for animal experiments. They were some of the most curious and intelligent animals available, scientists believed, so that meant they were an obvious choice for comparative psychology studies. Though raccoons were the subject of several psychology experiments at the turn of the century, they didn't stick around in labs for long. Unlike rats, they were hard to breed and maintain in large numbers. They also had the pesky tendencies to chew through their cages, pickpocket researchers, and hide out in air vents. Despite one researcher's plan to breed a tamer strain of raccoon, the creature's future in the lab never took off.
If you give raccoons a problem, they'll typically figure out how to solve it as long as there's food involved. They have repeatedly demonstrated this in labs in addition to yards and campsites. Early in the 20th century, ethologist H.B. Davis presented 12 raccoons with a set of locks to pick. They had to negotiate hooks, bolts, buttons, latches, and levers to get to the rewards inside the boxes; some of the boxes had multiple locks. The raccoons eventually managed to bypass 11 of the 13 defenses.
Anyone who has had a garden, cooler, or garbage can broken into by one of these animals knows that they have some of the most dexterous hands in all of nature. The first people to notice their unusual paws were Native Americans. The Powhatan phrase aroughcun, which means "animal that washes with its hands," is where the English word "raccoon" originates. Similar thinking went into the naming of the raccoon by the Aztecs. Mapachitli, which means "one who takes everything in its hands," was its given name. Mapache is now a Spanish word that means "raccoon."
Are the raccoons dangerous? Raccoons can carry several dangerous diseases including rabies. While incidents of rabid raccoons attacking humans are rare, it's not something you want to risk.Raccoons carry two other diseases, roundworm and leptospirosis, that can also be transmitted to humans and pets.
Are raccoons good pets? Raccoons are wild animals, not pets, and even “tamed” are extremely high maintenance and require an experienced, knowledgeable guardian. Even several generations of captive bred raccoons still exhibit all of their wild instincts throughout their lives. 2. It's illegal in certain states in keep raccoons as pets.
Scientists believe raccoons to be intelligent animals, but people who live in cities may find that their local populations are particularly cunning. This might be the result of urban raccoons frequently having to overcome hurdles created by people. When Toronto-based psychologist and biologist Suzanne MacDonald fitted city raccoons with GPS collars, she discovered that they had learnt to stay away from significant intersections. The idea that raccoons accustomed to living among humans are better able to solve unusual challenges was validated by a second experiment. In both urban and rural areas, MacDonald hid food in trash cans. Most city raccoons could figure out how to open the tricky lid, but the country raccoons consistently failed.
How aggressive are raccoons? Aggressive raccoons. While a normal raccoon wouldn't attack a person, they will sometimes “bluff” if they feel threatened or cornered. Raccoons may huff, grunt, or “charge” at you, but they're just trying to scare you off so you'll leave them alone.